Teresita Batayola Sworn in to Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders
On February 3, International Community Health Services (ICHS) President and Chief Executive Officer Teresita Batayola was sworn in to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders by Vice President Kamala Harris.
"It is an honor to be appointed to President Biden's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and to be sworn in by Vice President Harris," said Batayola. "The times demand urgency and we will work towards ongoing recommendations to the President on important issues affecting our communities such as anti-Asian Hate, language access, data disaggregation and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on AA and NHPI communities."
Members were congratulated by Commission Co-Chairs - Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai; and Domestic Policy Advisor in the Biden Administration Ambassador Susan E. Rice.
The 25 members of the Commission consist of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander leaders across health, business, media, political, and education fields from across the United States. They are subject matter experts as well as “visionary leaders who reflect the strength and diversity of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community,” said HHS Secretary Becerra.
The Commission will advise the President on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.
President Biden created the Commission through an executive order signed in May 2021. This is a pivotal time for the Commission to convene and act, said Ambassador Tai. The Commission will assist in developing policies to address and end anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, racism, and nativism as well as create opportunities for the executive branch to close gaps in health, socioeconomic, employment, and educational outcomes.
The commission will address disparities in AANHPI communities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. In 2020, AANHPIs lost 39% of their jobs across multiple sectors impacted by the rise in COVID-19 cases, said Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President and AA and NHPI Senior Liaison. At the same time, one in seven Asian American deaths was attributable to COVID-19. Where disaggregated NHPI data was available, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander death rates exceeded that of all other race and ethnicities said Moritsugu. Further evidence indicated that AANHPI are undertested for COVID-19, and experience higher risk of complications and death from COVID-19.
The pandemic has also magnified the deep-rooted nativism and racism against AANHPI individuals, said Moritsugu. New research released on Monday finds that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent in 2021 compared to the year before. Furthermore, key findings from a national survey in fall of 2021 by Stop AAPI Hate revealed that one in five Asian Americans experienced a hate incident the past year, a majority of which were reported by women.
The commission’s mandate is to ensure that the U.S. “lives up to its founding ideals,” said HHS Secretary Becerra, and “that the American Dream is within reach for every Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander family.”